Ani DiFranco is notorious for releasing an album a year and 2008 will be no exception.
Ani DiFranco is notorious for releasing an album a year and 2008 will be no exception. "Red Letter Year," the artist's 20th release since 1990, will arrive Sept. 30 via her own Righteous Babe label, and is one of her cheeriest, funkiest and most collaborative to date.
The opener/title track begins with DiFranco's slow acoustic guitar, which quickly gets hidden by horns and piano. Her vocals are slightly distorted and echoed in a fashion similar to "Millennium Theater" from the album "Reprieve." While DiFranco's signature percussive fingerpicking is missing throughout most of the album, her acoustic comes through on "Star Matter," "Present/Infant" and "Way Tight."
"Emancipated Teenager" is akin to the fast, horn-heavy jazz of "Deep Dish" from 1998's "Little Plastic Castle" but with synths and a string section. The strings also are a focus on other tracks, including "Alla This," "Good Luck" and "The Atom."
"Red Letter Year" was strongly influenced by DiFranco's daughter with partner/producer Mike Napolitano, most obviously in "Present/Infant" and "Landing Gear," both of which have been staples in her live shows throughout the past year. "For someone who ain't even here yet, look how much the world loves you," she sings in the latter.
As per usual -- and just in time for this year's presidential race -- DiFranco's political musings take center stage on several tunes. On "Alla This" she disses praying to a male god, and on the title track she sings about a "man with a monkey for a face" representing the white race.
DiFranco is touring North America until the end of the month. She'll tour the U.S. again from mid-September through early October, before a six-date European tour at the end of that month.
Here is the tracklist for "Red Letter Year":
"Red Letter Year"
"Round A Pole"
"Red Letter Year Reprise"